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Category: bookstores

Book stuff for a cold Monday

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

According to Blogger, this is my 150th blog entry. Wordy, aren’t I? Never at a loss for words or opinions. You should read my food blog. (Except that I don’t actually write a food blog.)

It’s overcast and cold in Memphis today. Yippee. Freezing rain tomorrow night. Double yippee. Cold weather is bad enough, snow worse, but ice…ice is punishment. Let’s hope the weatherman is wrong.

*** Under the category of ‘things I would love to do if I had the time and the motivation’ is learning how to bind books and make protective book boxes. Once upon a time I was a fairly craftsy type guy, I did a lot of intricate painting, used small, sharp X-Acto knives, did exacting work…I could have had some real fun learning how to makes books. And who knows, some day I still might. In the meantime I can read articles like the two below and imagine myself as part of the process while admiring those with the patience to learn these skills and the talent to create their wares.

Learning the book binding process site 1

Learning the book binding process site 2

*** Despite my personal vow never again to set foot in San Fransisco, I must admit that if I were close enough for that to even be possible I would consider attending the San Fransisco book fair. Although I have been selling off huge chunks of my personal collection this past year, with lots more just about to follow, book fairs are not something I have a lot of power to resist. There’s something genetic about it, I guess, or maybe there is a chemical given off by books that I am powerless to resist, a book pheromone, if you will.

SF Book Fair

*** In keeping with the whole 200th Poe birthday theme this month, Peter Ackroyd has a new biography of the drunken genius that has been getting fine reviews. Really, it’s hard to imagine Ackroyd writing something that didn’t get fine reviews. He’s just good at what he does, and while he may (or may not) bring new material to the story of this most tragic and influential of American writers, there is always room for a familiar story that is particularly well told. I may have to find this one to read for myself.

Ackroyd does Poe

*** In an earlier blog I mentioned the story of winding up on Charing Cross Road at 5 pm on Holy Saturday, gazing at the lineup of wonderful bookstores about to close for the Easter weekend. That was my first real experience with the world’s legendary book haunts, those places in the big cities where collectors around the world have always made their pilgrimage. New York had such a section, too, where hundreds and hundreds of book stores once congregated. Now, there are few left.

New York’s book store survivors

Bookselling, battleships and bookmen

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

*** The new issue of ILAM has posted, the best mystery/thriller review site on the internet, mostly because my reviews are featured there. What’s that you say? Why, yes, it’s true, I am a humble man. Some truly great books are reviewed in this issue and the editor, Sally, does her usual fantastic job, although my photo is still not used as part of the sites’ official logo. Which is probably smart.


*** Okay, I get it. Normal folk don’t get excited by histories of ships that were sunk more than 65 years ago, at Pearl Harbor, no less. But I do. What that says about me I ‘m afraid to ask.

As a boy these sorts of books were coming out all the time, but now, with timing passing, it’s infrequent. So I note the publication of Battleship Oklahoma BB-37 by Jeff Phister with Thomas Hone and Paul Goodyear, University of Oklahoma Press, with excitement and sadness, knowing such books will be unlikely in the future. Oklahoma was docked outboard on December 7, 1941, and rolled over (turned turtle in the parlance of the day) after being torpedoed on her starboard side. Hundreds were trapped below decks, some were rescued by cutting holes in the ship’s bottom, some weren’t. Eventually she was re-floated and was being towed mainland when she sunk in the open ocean.

New history of the USS Oklahoma

*** Laura Bush has signed a book deal to publish her memoirs, including her time in the White House. Whatever you may think of her husband, love him or hate him, Laura was and is one great lady. It is thanks for her that we have the annual Washington D.C. Book Fair, she has always been a friend to readers and writers and I wish her all the best.

Laura signs for the big bucks

*** I don’t know O.J. Brisky, but I have a feeling that I would like him if I met him. He runs my kind of bookstore in my kind of climate: warm and sunny Florida. If I get the chance I’m going to have to drop in and pay him a visit.

A Florida book man

*** We have all been reading about bookstores closing for a while now, and while that is always a sad thing it doesn’t really hit home until it happens to a store we know. And so it’s with ennui that I mention the closing of a London bookstore that I have actually visited, Murder One on Charing Cross Road. The story goes like this:

On our first trip to England our tour group had the world’s most incompetent guide. For a variety of reasons, BBG and Mrs. BBG found themselves wandering London on Holy Saturday. With Easter next day, most shops were closing up. About 4 pm, having absolutely no idea where we were, we exited a tube station at Charing Cross Road and I observed, like a vision from Heaven, shop after shop with the neat little sign ‘Books’ out front. Most were about to close and we were leaving London first thing Sunday morning. Aaaieee!

Frantically shopping at a dead run, the one shop that did NOT close at 5 pm was Murder One. I’ll never forget wandering the shop, marveling at all of the British editions of favorite authors, wondering just how much room I had in my suitcase for books. (In the end, I crammed 56 hardbacks into my two suitcases, both of which weighed about 80 lbs. Fortunately, this was before weight limits and surcharges.) I wound up buying a number of books there and wishing I could afford/carry more.

And now it’s closing. One more life event faded to memory, never to be relived.

Another good one bites the dust

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